My back yard is about 40 feet wide and open on two sides. I would like some privacy. Can you suggest a tall, narrow evergreen hedge plant?
Leyland cypress (X Cupressocyparis leylandii) is the plant most often used for this purpose. It eventually grows 60-70 feet high and 10-15 feetwide. It is adaptable and works in many situations, but it does require full sun.
Another plant that might work is an arborvitae called 'Green Giant' (Thuja plicata 'Green Giant'). There is beautiful hedge of this plant at the National Arboretum in Washington. It grows in a narrow pyramid to about 30 feet in height. If you are planting in a wet spot or in partial shade, I would suggest this plant rather than Leyland cypress.
Finally, you could plant an upright Chinese juniper such as 'Hetzii columnaris' or 'Robusta Green.' These would be the plants of choice in a hot, dry site. They are smaller than the above plants but will grow to 15-20 feet.
We are developing a landscape plan for our yard, but we are uncertain about the proper spacing for shrubs. Should we space them according to their mature size or should we consider other factors?
I would certainly consider mature plant size in developing your plan, but most landscape architects and designers plant more closely than mature size would suggest. There is good reason for this. In general, your landscape will develop a full, mature look much sooner if you plant closer. Shrubs are generally planted in masses in informal landscape designs. The goal of massing is for the shrubs to merge into one large group. It would take many years for this to occur if the plants were spaced according to their mature size. The same holds true for plants used in the hedges of formal gardens. The goal is for the plants to form one solid row. If the plants were spaced according to mature size, it could take a plant like boxwood 10 to 20 years to form a full hedge.
1. Monitor azaleas, rhododendron and laurel for signs of lace-bug damage. Lace bugs suck plant sap, leaving them bleached out. Small, black tarspots (bug feces) can be observed on leaf undersides.
2. Bean and corn seeds will start faster if they are sprouted before planting them in the garden. Place the seeds between moist paper towels, roll up the towels and keep them in a ventilated plastic bag in a warm spot.
3. Get bare-root roses and other bare-root plants in the ground as soon as possible. Be sure to water the plants thoroughly at planting and keep them well watered.
Dennis Bishop is an urban horticulture educator for the Baltimore office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Services. If you have a gardening or pest problem, you can call the Home and Garden Information Center hot line (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at 800-342-2507. You can also e-mail questions, order publications and diagnose plant problems by visiting the Web site www.hgic.umd.edu.